How soon is too soon?

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Random Thoughts on Life, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

How soon is too soon?

The tragedies that took place not only in Paris on November 13, but in multiple locations around the world in previous days have shocked the world and brought horror into the lives of many innocent families. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of all of these attacks. I hope that no one will feel that it is too soon for me to write this blog. It is my hope that it will help to prevent authors from making the mistake of offending or, even worse, hurting anyone that might have been impacted by these events.
Several television programs have been delayed following the terrorist attacks in Paris. I remember many movies being delayed, rewritten, or canceled following the 9/11 attacks. As an author, I have often scoured my writing to make certain that the story doesn’t have the potential of upsetting the families of victims of various tragedies. However, as anyone that has watched television or movies lately can attest to, 9/11 is no longer a taboo topic to mention as long as it is done tastefully. I’m sure that writers are also looking at their stories or story ideas and wondering if they are breaching sensitive areas that perhaps they should hold off on approaching. Of course, if you delay, how long is appropriate?
Like many questions, I don’t believe that there is a good, solid answer. The fact that some people even ask the question is a huge step forward in humane consideration of others feelings. However, there are a few things that I consider useful indicators of when it might be okay for you to write stories that might have some resemblance to a recent tragedy. Watch the news. While the news may not always have its finger on the pulse of the public, it usually can figure out what most people are concerned about. Some things are obvious. For example, if there are still official memorial services taking place, it is way too early to even think about referring to a tragedy. If you still hear “water cooler” conversations about the event, it is too early to make references about it. Look at social media for some trends. You would be surprised how much you can find out about what is on people’s minds based on stories that they link to. The final benchmark to look at is if you have to ask about the event still being sensitive at all, then it probably still is.
Writers are supposed to offer a glimpse at reality for their readers. Many writers do an amazing and insightful job of that. However, our job is never to reopen fresh wounds. When in doubt, ere on the side of decency. It might take a little excitement out of your story, but you can look at yourself in the mirror and sleep with a clear conscience. Your readers will thank you for it.

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